2012 is down to its final days. But it’s not too late for our superlatives on the up and mostly downside of what was a tumultuous year in Boston sports.
To honor and dishonor those deserving teams and players, we’re happy to present out first annual Obnoxious Boston Fan Awards (or the Obbies). Take a stroll down the red carpet for a look at the winners and losers, with our MVP award presented at the end. Next
Team of the Year: New England Patriots
In terms of wins and losses—no one came close (14-5 in Calendar Year 2012 for a .737 winning percentage). On either end of the calendar year, the Patriots were the class of New England and most of the NFL.
Playoff wins over Denver and Baltimore ushered in the New Year. And even losing the Super Bowl means you made the Super Bowl.
The Patriots continued their quest toward Lombardi IV with a surprisingly top-heavy draft—moving up instead of down for a change—and grabbing legitimate potential defensive stars in DE Chandler Jones and LB Dont'a Hightower in the first round and S Tavon Wilson in the second.
The Wes Welker contract situation was dealt with in the Patriot Way—which means Welker eventually got the shaft after singing his contract tender and a likely one-way ticket out of town after the season as a free-agent, presumably he's not franchised again. And how did Welker respond—save for his one brief bit of comedy on the CSNNE Patriots post-game show on Oct. 7—he's caught 110 passes this season for 1,260 yards.
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That's his fifth 100-catch, 1,000-plus yard receiving season in New England since 2007. Meanwhile, any potential crises—see Gisele's outburst (more on that later), Bob Kraft's Hollywood audition and those pesky drug suspensions—were quickly dispatched by the in-house Cleaners.
Bill Parcells often said you never stay the same, you’re either getting better or getting worse. But the Patriots ended the year exactly where they started it—a legitimate threat to win the Super Bowl.
And you can't ask for much more than that—except a Super Bowl win itself. Next
Athletes of the Year : Alexandra Raisman and Kayla Harrison
Aly Raisman and her U.S. Olympic gymnastics teammates entered 2012 London Games with the eyes of the world upon them and expectations that they should contend for a gold medal. There were no Duckboat parades in Massachusetts this year, but Raisman captured two championships during the most-watched television event (that being the Summer Olympics) in history.
She not only won team gold with her fellow Fab Five members, but the 18-year-old Needham native danced, flipped and tumbled her way to gold in the floor routine. Raisman's parents even got into the act with their angst-ridden reactions during her winning routines.
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Harrison became the first American—male or female—to win an Olympic judo gold medal. While Harrison is from Middletown, Ohio, she trains in Wakefield, Mass., so we'll happily claim her on our year-end list.
Harrison, who went public with her story of being sexually abused by a judo coach as a young teenager in the wake of the Penn State scandal, sought refuge while training in Wakefield during the years following her abuse and its aftermath. Her attacker is currently in prison. Harrison used her stature as an Olympian to help other abuse victims.
Her Olympic gold medal, which came after four hard-fought victories in London, gave her a world-wide microphone. “This is exactly what I wanted,” she told USA Today. “I can’t wait to help grow the sport of judo, to help victims overcome things and hopefully change somebody’s life, make a difference.”
Well done, ladies.
For Boston sports fans, all that gold came at the perfect time, in the wake of a winter and spring that saw early, heartbreaking and/or excruciating playoff exits.
Meanwhile, a day after the Olympics ended, the Red Sox were at or above .500 (55-55) for the final time in 2012, before going 14-38 the rest of the way. Next
Most Obnoxious Story of 2012: The Red Sox (Continued) Collapse
For the Red Sox, the Great Fall of 2011 never stopped. The Red Sox’ 2012 season ended with their worst finish—69-93—since 1965. The year drained the team, the organization and its fan base. The fallout from Chicken and Beer never stopped. The dysfunction in the clubhouse was overmatched by the poor play on the field.
Meanwhile, the pitching never got on track, the lineup was riddled with injuries, the team's power and hitting wilted in the summer heat.
When things mercifully ended with a 14-2 loss to the Yankees on Oct. 3, there was no anger, no joy, no celebration, no relief, no anticipation, no rage after watching them play doormat in the Bronx, no pride, no silver lining, no satisfaction, no contentment knowing you were right all along about the manager, no more laughter, no more tears.
Ownership force-fed fans a mythical sellout streak, a Fenway 100 marketing blitz that only seemed more embarrassing as the team never moved higher than third place all season and, as Bane so eloquently put it, had their minds poisoned with "the promise of hope" thanks to endless propaganda via State Run Media and elsewhere pimping the second wild card. It eventually became the eighth wild card.
The Red Sox finished dead-last in the American League East when it came to effort, passion, functionality and wins-and-losses—not to mention 11th in the American League in team ERA, 10th in opponents' batting average and dead-last (14th) in shutouts.
It was the pitching, stupid, after all. Dice-K closed his career with the Red Sox facing 14 batters that night, giving up five runs and two home runs in just 2.1 innings. His ERA this season was a John Lackey-esque 8.28. The final tally on Dice-K: $881,282 per game pitched or $2,062,200 per win. And the Red Sox spent a combined $184 million for both he and Lackey.
To say ownership was out of touch along the way would be kind:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center"><p>Jacoby and CarlOn the field together.Finally. Should be a great second half. <a href="http://t.co/lZLgc4Ev" title="http://twitter.com/John_W_Henry/status/225004877749825539/photo/1">twitter.com/John_W_Henry/s…</a></p>— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) <a href="https://twitter.com/John_W_Henry/status/225004877749825539" data-datetime="2012-07-16T23:11:58+00:00">July 16, 2012</a></blockquote><br/><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The Red Sox went 26-50 after this tweet, which was Henry's last as of posting time. The free-fall accelerated as the season progressed, as did the bus out of town. First, it was Kevin Youkilis, then Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, and eventually, Bobby Valentine and even, by year's end, the "cheerful" Cody Ross. All hell broke loose when the 2011 Red Sox went 7-20 in September. The 2012 Red Sox did a little better, going 7-19, before going 0-3 in October.
2013 Sox Pax anyone?
Meanwhile, the Red Sox went on a spending spree of overpriced mediocrity (to wit Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes) not seen since the acquisition of J.D. Drew. But the Red Sox did their best to match it by adding Stephen Drew for $9.5 million. Drew is set to begin the season on the 30-day DL with a pulled hangnail and, as John S. on Facebook noted, healthcare premiums in Massachusetts will go up five percent to compensate for his arrival.
To put this financial insanity in some perspective—Drew, Victorino (3 years, $39 million) and Napoli (pending at 3 years, $39 million)—will make more money next season than anyone on the Patriots did this season except for Welker—who made $9.515 million, just edging out Drew—and Brady, whose contract was re-structured and paid him on $955,000 in salary on top of a $10.8 million bonus.
Good luck, John Farrell, you're going to need it. Next
Moment of the Year: Billy Cundiff's Miss
A moment is, just that, a moment. So we tried to go back in time and think of the happiest moment shared by fans this past calendar year. What was that one instant when you leaped out of your seat with unbridled glee. Happiness and nothing else.
For us, that moment in 2012 came when the Patriots got their ticket to the Super Bowl punched as then-Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed what should have been a chip shot to tie the AFC championship game against the Patriots and preserved New England's 23-20 victory in Foxborough.
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"Wide left from 32."
The shot of Big Vince at the 34-second mark says it all.
That miss was set up Sterling Moore's golden move on Lee Evans, turning his "look what I have here" touchdown into an incomplete pass on 2nd-and-1 in the Ravens' final drive.
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It was a game the Patriots probably should have lost. Brady's 1-yard touchdown dive with 11:29 left were the winning points. "I sucked pretty bad today, but our defense saved us," Brady said after throwing for 239 yards, with two interceptions and, no TD passes.
At that moment, the Giants were yet to play the 49ers in the NFC title game. It was definitely all good. It was too soon for any pre-game analysis. So the doom and gloom that may have preceded the Super Bowl and its ensuing in-game agony—started on New England's first offense play with Brady's safety, had yet to take hold.
This was bliss at its purest.
And 2012's top moment.
Most Obnoxious Personality of the Year: Bobby Valentine
No one single person took up more server space, bandwidth, newshole, airtime or Twitter characters in Boston sports this year than Bobby Valentine, even though he's been out of town for two months.
Valentine's hiring was trumpeted as the cure for all that ailed the Red Sox heading into the 2012 season. Coming on the heels of Terry Francona's exile and his somber, player-friendly personality, Valentine was going to shake up the clubhouse and bring his decades of baseball expertise to guide the Red Sox back to glory—or at least third place. And don't forget, Valentine's knowledge of the Japanese culture and his ability to speak the language was all that Dice-K needed to snap out of his funk and successfully recover from Tommy John surgery.
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By the end of the season, the Red Sox had run out of scapegoats and Valentine's departure after just one season was as much a relief for him as a necessity for the rest of us and the team
The Valentine Year's Massacre featured the Youkilis flap (followed by the Youkilis trade), the Will Middlebrooks flap, the "he didn't know if the pitcher (Liam Hendricks of the Twins on April 25) was a righty or lefty" flap, the Jon Lester flap, the multiple Alfredo Aceves flaps, the "Ballplayer: Pelotero" flap, the Jose Iglesias/Daniel Nava mid-at-bat flap, and even the Scott Podsednik lineup flap.
This all happened as the team withered on the field. Valentine had the unique ability to catastrophically mismanage his players simultaneously on and off the field. Unlike so many bad Red Sox managers of the past, Valentine's ego needed the fuel of 10,000 suns, so he thrust himself into the story time and time again.
That cratered with Valentine's weekly appearance on WEEI's Big Show on Sept. 5, when he was asked if he had "checked out" and responded by threatening to punch host Glenn Ordway in the mouth. They eventually made up.
But the damage had been done—across the board. Next
Flop of the Year: Boston Bruins/NHL
The Bruins entered 2012 as defending Stanley Cup champions, but just three weeks into the new year, things began to unravel.
The team headed to the White House, but Tim Thomas decided to take a public pass and post his thoughts on Facebook in what was the biggest political fury this side of the first presidential debate. Whether or not Thomas discovering his inner-Glenn Beck had any negative effect on the team's play remains subject to debate. The Bruins rallied at the end of the regular season to secure the No. 2 spot in the East, but ended their championship reign with a premature ejection from the playoffs courtesy of Joel Ward, Braden F. Holtby and the Washington Capitals.
It was Thomas' worst nightmare—a dreaded Washington takeover. And even before he "retired"—for at least a year—he was off the hook for another White House visit. It was the closest playoff series in NHL history. Seven games decided by one goal apiece. Four games extended into overtime. Several million f-bombs.
After Ward stuffed his game-winner past Thomas, the Garden hadn't been this quiet since it was torn down down next door. "Good job, kid," Thomas told Holtby after the game. Then he asked Holtby for political asylum in Saskatchewan.
Thomas played good but not great. His detractors continued to make the mistake of linking his Facebook posts and political edicts to the fact that his GAA ballooned to 2.14 in the playoffs and his save percentage tumbled to .923. The Bruins' lack of big-time offensive firepower—highlighted by the absence of Nathan Horton—doomed them in the shortened postseason last April. The Bruins’ power play went 2-for-23 in the seven-game series. Milan Lucic was on the ice in Game 7 for 19:50 and didn't take a shot.
Things only got worse for Thomas, whose year bottomed out when Karl Rove finally gave up on Ohio, and the rest of the NHL as the 2012-13 season was put on indefinite stranglehold thanks to Commissioner/Ice Czar Gary Bettman, Jeremy Jacobs (didn't take long to start hating him again) and a few other owners. Depending on when the NHL resumes and how the new collective bargaining agreement shapes up, the Bruins will have a solid young core on both ends of the ice. Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton offer nearly limitless upside for another decade and the team is full of others who know how to win a championship. The biggest question won't be answered until Tukkaa Rask gets tested in the playoffs—which might not start until sometime after the Olympics in 2014.
While it seems like a decade ago, 2011 was the best year for the Bruins and their fans since the Watergate break-in. And 2012 started with optimism, hope and excitement, but eventually dissolved into heartbreak in the spring, disappointment in the fall and discontent in the winter.
If the Bruins and their fans are looking for year to forget, 2012 would be a great place to start. Next
The Jack Meyer Good job, Good effort" Award: Boston Celtics
Jack Meyer was the young Miami Heat fan who did his best to cheer on LeBron James and his teammates after their loss to Boston in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The video clip of Meyer's good-wishes, caught by the ESPN cameras at the end of the telecast, became one of the internet's sports highpoints of 2012. While viewers may have initially thought Meyer was insincere, he left no doubt that his passion was legit. "For those people who thought I was being sarcastic, you're wrong," Meyer said. "I was being enthusiastic. I was saying the truth. I would never hurt the Heat's feelings like that."
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Boston's 94-90 victory left LeBron and the Heatles on the verge of extinction. The 44-hours between the end of Game 5 and start of Game 6 was filled with speculation on the future of Erik Spoelstra and James in Miami once the Celtics eliminated them from the playoffs. The end of James and the Heat dynasty was upon us before it started. But LeBron showed at the Garden in time to dismantle the Celtics in Games 6 and again in Game 7 back in South Beach.
The Celtics left their fans exclaiming "good job, good effort" when the season was finished. The Celtics earned high praise for their "grit and balls" during and after the postseason given the fact that they made to a Game 7 against the eventual champion Heat.
The summer brought the end of the Big Four as Ray Allen took his ball and went to Miami. He's dead to us (professionally of course) until further notice. After Allen left town, the dirty laundry between him, Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers was hung out across Causeway Street for all to see. The Celtics began the season with only four players from last year's final roster and are a work in progress at 14-13 after their 93-76 Christmas Day rout of the You-Can-Take-The-Nets-Out-Of-New-Jersey-But-You-Can't-Take-The-New-Jersey-Out-Of-The-Brooklyn Nets.
One game over .500 about a third of the way into the season and Avery Bradley set to comeback?
You might say: "Good job, good effort." Next
Christiaan Barnard Transformer Award: The Red Sox Salary Dump
This special award is named in honor of the world's first heart transplant surgeon and goes to the Boston Red Sox for the Great Salary Dump of 2012.
In one bold move—thank you Magic Johnson and Friends—the Red Sox were able to jettison more than a quarter-of-a-billion dollars ($262 million or so to be exact) worth of contracts at the doorstep of the Dodgers via trade on Aug. 25. Simply put, as noted at the time—this wasn't a trade, but rather an organ transplant</a>.
As a double-transplant recipient, I'm overly-qualified to use this tasteless but apt and brutally descriptive analogy. The Red Sox had no other realistic option when presented with the chance to rid themselves of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Nick Punto came along for the ride.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23dodgers">#dodgers</a> doing it first class! <a href="http://t.co/DRPr2HH7" title="http://twitter.com/Shredderpunto/status/239433228858044416/photo/1">twitter.com/Shredderpunto/…</a></p>— Nick Punto (@Shredderpunto) <a href="https://twitter.com/Shredderpunto/status/239433228858044416" data-datetime="2012-08-25T18:45:05+00:00">August 25, 2012</a></blockquote><br/><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett symbolized all that was wrong with the Red Sox, in various degrees. Crawford was overwhelmed by Boston, battled nagging injuries, carried the burden of a $142 million, seven-year contract with a deer-in-the-headlights look and under-unachieved on a historic scale. Gonzalez played with all the passion of J.D. Drew, was about as productive in the clutch, and found out that $156 million can't buy happiness when you're playing for the Red Sox and the team is fighting to stay in fourth place. Beckett was the Big Bang at the creation of the Chicken and Beer universe. Beckett didn't give a damn and it showed every time he pitched.
The Great Salary Dump of 2012 freed the Red Sox from three atrocious deals engineered by Theo Epstein (Ben Cherington was GM when the Red Sox first signed Beckett but Epstein re-signed him three times) and Larry Lucchino. The Red Sox’ payroll in 2012 peaked in the neighborhood of about $180 million. Even with the pending Napoli deal, it should settle around $125 million or so in 2013 once they fill out the roster.
Organ transplants are a last resort, when no other treatment will work. They carry tremendous risk and reward. They require extensive testing, screening and come at a great cost for both the donor and their families, and for the recipient. Organ donation is justifiably considered the ultimate gift.
In this case, it was the Dodgers who gave the Red Sox the "gift" by taking Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett off their hands. They didn't help. The Dodgers were two games behind San Francisco in the N.L. West they make the deal with Boston and finished eight games out and missed the playoffs. While Crawford could make a run at an NL Comeback Player of the Year Award if slotted properly in the Dodgers' lineup, Gonzalez and Beckett should continue their apathetic ways well into 2013.
Here's Beckett at his best in Los Angeles:
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So long, fellas. Next
Negative 10th Player: Adrian Gonzalez
Each year, the Red Sox give out the "10th Player Award" to honor the player who has "most exceeded expectations." The 2012 winner was the "cheerful" Cody Ross, who signed with the Diamondbacks for three years at $26 million on Saturday.
In 2011, we honored John Lackey with the first OBF "Negative 10th Player Award" for the member of the Red Sox who "most failed to meet expectations."
Once again, the competition in 2012 was simply brutal. There were multiple contenders, including Lackey himself, who didn't play but spent his year of recovery from Tommy John surgery by traveling with the club and "double-fisting" in the clubhouse, among other things.
Josh Beckett made a spectacular bid for the 2012 crown, as did Carl Crawford, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester and Dice-K. But expectations for those players were mostly on the low end to begin with, especially with Beckett. Lester made a strong bid as well.
But this year's winner outshined them.
Congratulations, Adrian Gonzalez.
Before Gonzalez left Boston, he hit .300 for the Red Sox with 15 home runs and 86 RBI in 123 games. Solid numbers, but as Bill Belichick would say in this case, stats are for losers.
Gonzalez produced little in the way of memorable moments on the field, but his performance on the Red Sox' off day in New York on July 26 was one for the books.
"Fan Cave" played the guitar:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center"><p>So @<a href="https://twitter.com/kyleokc">kyleokc</a> beat me in <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23HRDerby">#HRDerby</a>, & then made me shred! Fun in the @<a href="https://twitter.com/mlbfancave">mlbfancave</a>! RT & follow! <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23FanCaveHacked">#FanCaveHacked</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23MLBFC">#MLBFC</a> <a href="http://t.co/In1xJoXj" title="http://twitter.com/adriangon28/status/228508258422386690/photo/1">twitter.com/adriangon28/st…</a></p>— Adrian Gonzalez (@adriangon28) <a href="https://twitter.com/adriangon28/status/228508258422386690" data-datetime="2012-07-26T15:13:09+00:00">July 26, 2012</a></blockquote><br/><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
He did some planking:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center"><p>I just beat A-Gon in The Show <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23HRDerby">#HRDerby</a>. Now he's gonna plank with me (@<a href="https://twitter.com/iblogbetter">iblogbetter</a>) <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23PlankBros">#PlankBros</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23FanCaveHacked">#FanCaveHacked</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23MLBFC">#MLBFC</a> <a href="http://t.co/qRZIaZwx" title="http://twitter.com/adriangon28/status/228507059631562753/photo/1">twitter.com/adriangon28/st…</a></p>— Adrian Gonzalez (@adriangon28) <a href="https://twitter.com/adriangon28/status/228507059631562753" data-datetime="2012-07-26T15:08:23+00:00">July 26, 2012</a></blockquote><br/><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
He played Wiffle Ball. He managed to do all that after arriving from Texas at 5 a.m. Of course, neither he nor most of his teammates could get up early after another road trip to attend Johnny Pesky’s funeral. (More on that later). Gonzalez then took part in the attempted coup d'etat/regularly scheduled annual off-day-in-the-middle-of-the-season-meeting later that July day in New York by letting his phone be used to send the trigger message.
The players may or may not have called for Valentine's head that day, depending on which report or denial you believe. But the fact that the Red Sox obsessed with their petty issues on an off day in New York when they were entering what was their last meaningful series of the season demonstrated all anyone needed to know what the team was really all about. And Gonzalez was at the epicenter of it by allowing himself to be used as the voice of the crybabies.
You'd expect more from a guy whom was supposed to be your offensive leader for the next six years.
It's no real surprise the "10th Player Award" winner has left town. Thankfully, the "Negative 10th Player Award" winner is long gone, as well. Next
Not-So-Lady Bing Trophy: Gisele Bundchen
Patriots Team Mom Gisele "Yoko" Bundchen sent an email prior to the Super Bowl asking for divine intervention. "I feel Tommy really needs our prayer, our support and love at this time," she wrote in email obtained by the New York Post.
Apparently Gisele missed the last chapter in the Book of Tebow. Divine intervention does not apply to football games. When the Giants beat the Patriots 21-17 in February, Gisele sought to find out what happened and offered this historic postgame analysis:
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She later later told Tommy: “You played the best game of your life ... you were amazing. Call it negative reinforcement.
The clip requires some Zapruder-film-like analysis. Here, it was Eli Manning in the sixth floor of the book depository of Lucas Oil Stadium and Tom Coughlin hiding in the grassy knoll. Gisele is seen walking with Bianca Wilfork (@Mrs75). Mrs. Brady then gets roped in by a loud-mouthed Giants fan. According to the official FBI transcript, the heckler says: 'Eli (Manning) rules, Eli owns your husband.” Eli does own her husband, or at least two of his Super Bowl rings.
The original Mrs. Brady would have turned to that heckler and said: "Fun is fun, but if you're not careful, someone can get hurt" before adding: "Don't play ball in the house."
Our Mrs. Brady didn't.
Gisele turns to @Mrs75 and another companion and says: "You (have) to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot (expletive) throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.”
Wisely, she didn't add: "And by the way, Bianca, where the hell was your husband on that last drive? The Giants owned his (expletive) all night long." Now that ensuing cat fight would have been must-see video. Wilfork was ineffective in the Super Bowl with just three tackles and no sacks.
The Patriots lost and the Giants won for several reasons: Tommy's safety on his first play, the defense's inability to get the Giants off the field, a flawless game by Eli Manning, a spectacular catch by Mario Manningham, the above-mentioned missed catches, 12 men on the field, the Giants' offensive line, Tom Coughlin's brilliance, a few unlucky bounces, etc. The next time they count to 12 on "Sesame Street," we need to alert the Patriots defense.
The Patriots were one step, one play, one stop and one drop short, not just one catch. Tommy's boys put themselves in a position to win the Super Bowl, but failed to close the deal as a team.
No matter what Gisele says. Next
MVP: Boston fans
This one goes to the fans.
This was the nearly the best of times and partly the worst of times for Boston sports fans.
The Patriots came within one Wes Welker catch of icing the Super Bowl. They were in the game until the final play of the game, when Rob Gronkowski came up about two feet short of Tom Brady's Fail Mary tipped pass in the end zone. They also experienced another crushing last-minute-or-two Super Bowl loss at the hands of the Giants. There was plenty of comic relief at the expense of Butt-Fumble and the Jets.
The Celtics went beyond anyone's expectations, but they blew a chance to once-and-for-all end the dynasty that the Miami Heat, LeBron James and now Ray Allen have under construction in Miami.
The Bruins, who began the year as defending champions of the hockey universe, have turned into dust, along with the rest of the NHL.
Then there were the Red Sox. As individual players, a team and an organization, the Red Sox did everything in their power to alienate their fans. They succeeded beyond anyone's wildest nightmares—with things going nuclear following the death of Johnny Pesky.
It was hard to pinpoint a lowpoint this season. Was it the blown nine-run lead against the Yankees in April? Was it the four-home-runs-in-four-plus-inning performance by Jon Lester on July 22 against Toronto. Was it Beckett's screw-you golf outing in May? Was it his early "pulled backfat" exit against the Tigers? How about all of Valentine's escapes? Lest we forget the 20-2 loss to the A's on Aug. 31, when three former members of the team (George Kottaras, Brandon Moss, and Josh Reddick) combined for three home runs and 13 RBI? (Trivia Note: newcomers Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes added three hits and three RBI.) How about the daily dysfunction in the clubhouse?
Surpassing all of that, the initial disrespect demonstrated by the players who passed on attending Pesky's funeral (four players did attend) and the justifiable outrage it unleashed among fans was unseen in my lifetime. It was partly that anger that fueled such a positive reaction to the Great Salary Dump, which occurred just days after news broke of the Pesky snub. The Red Sox and their players got it right at the beautiful memorial service on Sept. 23.
The return of "Our Father's Red Sox" dispelled the recently created myth, perpetrated by the team in large part, that Red Sox fans were all "Sweet Caroline" singing fools who believe in Wally, "Fenway 100" coffee-table books and Bobby Valentine's management skills.
Despite all the teasing ups and all-too-real downs, the fans stuck it out. In the case of the Red Sox and the NHL, the fans didn’t give up on their teams or their leagues, the teams and their league gave up on their fans. While Patriots’ fans are bit too quiet at Gillette, they have no trouble making plenty of noise on the road. And while the Celtics have entered a bridge year of sorts, interest and passion remains solid.
The Fans were clearly Boston's best performers in 2012.
For their sake, let's hope things change in 2013. Back to the beginning
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